Car Reviews

What is the Best SUV for Camping?

By TheCarzingTeam June 29, 2022 | Car Reviews

Car Reviews

Individuals and families visiting state or national parks might plan to stay the night. For many families, camping is part of the fun of the journey. Camping can include sleeping in a tent, a comfortable camper or even spending the night in a vehicle.

For those ready to explore the wilderness and sleep under the stars, what is the best SUV for camping? The best options depend on how car owners define camping. Do they need an SUV with the power to tow a camper or are they planning to camp in their SUV?

Camper Report explains that as long as a truck or SUV can tow about 7,200 pounds, it should be powerful enough to tow a camper. The SUVs with the best towing capacities for campers and trailers include:

  • Ford Expedition (towing capacity of 9,300 pounds)
  • Dodge Durango (towing capacity of 8,700 pounds)
  • Lincoln Navigator (towing capacity of 8,700 pounds)
  • Chevrolet Tahoe (towing capacity of 8,400 pounds)
  • GMC Yukon (towing capacity of 8,400 pounds)

Best SUV for Camping

What SUVs can Store a Tent?

Some car owners do not have access to a camper. Instead, they pack a tent to pitch in a park for camping adventures. Those who need the cargo space to pack a tent and other camping necessities might be fine hauling all their gear in a smaller SUV.

Tents are made to be disassembled and can easily be stored in trunks or other cargo areas. Compact SUVs like the Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V could offer enough space to store a pop up tent, sleeping bags and other camping gear.

A Girls Guide to Cars explains how even the smaller SUVs can accommodate lots of camping gear. Those who plan on using their small SUV for camping adventures might opt for cargo racks to provide extra space for equipment and other gear.

Best SUV for Camping

SUVs for Towing a Camper

The best SUVs for camping with a camper depend on the SUVs towing capacity, and the SUVs with the best towing capacities are often larger models.

These SUVs can tow anywhere from 8,400 pounds to more than 9,000 pounds. However, camping enthusiasts might be able to choose a smaller SUV if it has the capacity to tow around 7,200 pounds—the capacity for towing a smaller camper.

However, the weight of the trailer is only one consideration when using the SUV for camping adventures. Outdoorsy explains that SUV owners also need to understand the tongue weight of the trailer and the payload capacity.

The tongue of the trailer is what attaches to the back of the SUV. Make sure that the SUV has the capacity to sustain the tongue weight of the trailer.

In addition, any weight carried inside the vehicle is referred to as the ‘payload capacity.’ This capacity includes the weight of the passengers, too. When the SUV is needed to carry lots of gear and many passengers, car owners need to ensure that they don’t push beyond the vehicle’s payload. For example, the payload for the Ford Expedition is about 1,757 pounds.

Best SUV for Camping

SUVs for Car Camping

What are the best SUVs for car camping? Almost any SUV can be used for car camping, however smaller SUVs might only fit one person comfortably for an overnight camping trip.

Larger or even mid-size SUVs might be able to accommodate a few people in the back when the seats are folded down. When considering an SUV for car camping, though, owners might test out how to best utilize the cargo space.

Some car owners who use their SUV for car camping use an inflatable mattress in the back cargo space to create a sleeping area. Some SUVs might fit a full-size inflatable mattress when the seats are folded over.

However, to ensure that there are no surprises when camping, car owners can arrange the space of their vehicle before they leave for the trip. Inflate the mattress to see if it fits easily in the back. Those who don’t plan to use a mattress might test out different arrangements to find the most comfortable sleeping area.

SUVs might have a plastic backing behind the seats; this helps make it easy to move and position cargo when the seats are folded down. However, the hard plastic of the seats don’t necessarily create the most comfortable sleeping area. Car owners can place pillows or padding over the plastic when designing a sleeping area in their SUV for car camping.  

How many people can sleep in an SUV? The sleeping capacity depends on the size of the SUV. While the front seats might recline back for sleeping, not everyone would consider sleeping in the front seat to be an ideal arrangement.

What are the Most Spacious SUVs for Car Camping?

For the most sleeping space for camping, full-size SUVs will be the best option. Full-size SUVs include:

  • Ford Expedition
  • Jeep Wagoneer
  • Chevrolet Tahoe
  • Toyota Sequoia
  • GMC Yukon
  • Nissan Armada
  • Chevrolet Suburban
  • Dodge Durango
  • Hyundai Palisade

These SUVs will offer the most space and probably the best towing capacity, too, for those who need to tow a boat or a camper. However, just because an SUV is larger doesn’t mean it’s going to be a comfortable camping space. With larger SUVs, owners should still opt for a ‘dry run’ before heading out on the road.

Owners should explore how they plan to arrange their SUV to accommodate all the passengers who need to sleep in the vehicle. Drop down the seats or explore other arrangements. Don’t assume the space will accommodate everyone—try it out first.

Tips on Car Camping

Car camping can be budget-friendly. However, those who intend to sleep in their vehicle or camp in their SUV need to be safe.

Choose safe areas when car camping. This can be a public campground or another option. Roaming Times also recommends truck stops, Walmart parking lots and even rest stops for safe sleeping locations. Make sure the doors of the SUV are locked. Keep keys and a cell phone handy, too.

Some climates become extremely hot, and cars hold heat. Adventure Journal recommends cracking a window and parking in the shade. In addition, window coverings (especially those that resemble foil) can help reduce the heat.

However, some climates may simply be too hot for car camping. Car owners don’t want to risk overheating. Keep an eye on the temperature and head to cooler accommodations when necessary.

What’s the Best SUV for Camping?

The best SUV for camping depends on how car owners intend to camp. Do they need an SUV to tow a camper? Do they plan to sleep in the SUV?

The Ford Expedition is a full-size SUV that offers the best towing capacity. Since it’s a larger SUV, it also might have plenty of space to accommodate those who wish to camp inside the SUV. However, even smaller SUVs might have the space to sleep one person.

When an SUV is going to be used for sleeping, owners need to determine how to maximize the space to create the most comfortable sleeping area. Reaching the destination only to find that the SUV doesn’t have the space to comfortably sleep more than one person can lead to a miserable camping experience and a sleepless night, too.

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